Gutman unaffected by Lyon struggles

Lyon are in the relegation zone after failing to win any of their

past four league games, including Saturday’s home defeat in the

Derby du Rhone to arch rivals St Etienne. The pressure is starting

to mount on coach Claude Puel but Gutman remains wary of a side

which reached the semi-finals last season before bowing out to

Bayern Munich. He said: “I think Lyon are a very strong and

experienced team. They have excellent players. “But Lyon are in a

difficult situation in the league right now. But this has no

influence on the match. “The Champions League is a different

situation. They won against Schalke in their first match, and for

me Lyon are still the favourites to win Group B. “So, for us, one

point would be a good result.” Hapoel went down 2-0 to Benfica in

their pool opener but Gutman is still optimistic they can advance

to the knockout stages. He added: “After our defeat at Benfica, our

situation hasn’t improved, that is clear. “It is harder now to

reach our goals, but it is not impossible. “It was our goal to

finish second or third, and this is still our goal. “I think my

team is strong enough, we still have five matches to go and

everything is possible.” Lyon’s hopes of getting their season back

on track have been hit by an injury list which shows little sign of

abating. Lisandro Lopez and Jean Makoun will again miss out while

Cris, Cesar Delgado and Ederson have not travelled. Despite the

visitors’ struggles, outspoken president Jean-Michel Aulas has no

plans to change coach after throwing his support behind Puel. He

told France Football: “You’d be surprised how many messages of

support I get for Claude. “There is nobody inside the club who

contradicts that view. “We opted to give him a four-year contract

with a view to bringing a degree of stability to the club. “That

said, we can always make a decision at any moment.”